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Hosting a dinner party is fun for bringing friends and family together without the massive expense of heading to a fancy restaurant. Even though 56% of Americans reported eating out two to three times per week, the traditional dinner party is still a unique way to spend an evening.

If you’re intimidated by the idea of hosting a massive evening and don’t feel like you have an inner Martha Stewart, the whole escapade can feel overwhelming. Embrace the fun, relaxed dinner party atmosphere and follow these tips to host your next gathering.

1. Nail the Preparation

Preparing for the big evening in advance can take away much of the strain when the festivities begin. One great idea is to make sure your dishwasher is completely empty before the night begins so that you’re not scrambling for space between courses.

The same goes for the trash can. Take out the trash before the dinner party begins. There’s nothing worse than a full trash can in the middle of a party.

You’ll be grateful for this type of preparation as the night goes on. If you’re struggling to keep everyone on track, list the essentials. Finish off your checklist before the first guests arrive, and you’ll be ready to enjoy the evening as you should.

Preparing ahead of time is a ‘must.’

2. Create a Stress-Free Kitchen Environment

The kitchen can quickly become a swamp of chaos when planning even the smallest dinner parties. However, it shouldn’t be a surprise because studies have shown that guests eat 48% more at dinner parties than when they attend a restaurant.

Prep all your meals ahead of time. None of the cooking should be happening in the middle of the party itself. The only function of your kitchen throughout the party should be warming up the food you already made.

Prepare cutting boards, pots, and knives ahead of time and put anything away that isn’t absolutely necessary for the dinner party itself.

You can even pre-make your dessert. Dessert can be made the night before and prepped in a way that requires it to be placed in the oven or heated on the stovetop a few minutes before it’s ready to be served.

In an ideal world, you will also set the rule that nobody is allowed in the kitchen, including spouses, kids, and pets.

3. Sparkle When Setting the Table

Tableware can be traditional or modern. It depends on your taste and the tastes of your guests. Timeless table-setting tips are often the go-to solution for first-time hosts but don’t be afraid to break the rules.

Add some sparkle to your table setting with some novelties. For example, bamboo skewers are an uncommon addition to any table, they’re good for the environment, and they’re sure to catch people’s eye.

If you’re looking for a grander dinner party and intend on adding a centerpiece, this is the part you want to focus on. Centerpieces don’t need to be overly elaborate or expensive. It just needs to bind the whole table together.

For example, one or two colorful flowers placed in a stylish vase with some greenery is a simple yet proven way of finishing off your table. Look for unique, colorful flowers, such as ranunculus or anemones, to make your table pop.

Also, don’t forget to consider how the colors should fit in with your dining room. Make sure everything blends together without creating awkward contrasts.

Photo by Askar Abayev on

4. Think About Where to Splurge and Where to Save

Tableware can get expensive quickly. You don’t want to break the bank on a simple dinner party. Splurging in the right areas and saving in others will keep your budget down without compromising the quality of the evening.

You can easily save on plates. Simple white plates are always a winner, and they’re extremely inexpensive. Round white plates work great in any neutral setting with practically any menu you can come up with.

One area to splurge on is your wine glasses. Cheap wine glasses will always look cheap and take away from that expensive wine you happen to be drinking. Think about the shape of the glass and remember that there are separate wine glass options for red and white.

Decent wine glasses can be found at major retailers, including Target. A great budget-friendly wineglass option is Riedel glasses.

Fabrics are another area to splurge on. Spending more on a set of eight to ten placemats with matching napkins is an indicator that you have put some real thought into the evening. Retailers like Sur La Table, West Elm, and Barrel are locations where you can find some high-quality fabrics for your dinner party.

Alternatively, you can even buy fabrics and make your own napkins and placemats. If you’re crafty, taking the time to create your own custom set can add an element of fun to your gathering.

5. Put Some Thought into Your Menu

The food makes the party. Bad food will ruin even the best company. Your chosen menu will depend entirely on who you invite and how many people you invite.

Smaller parties of six or fewer are perfect for encouraging others to bring their own homecooked dishes, with you taking care of the main course. Having your guests bring a side, salad, or dessert encourages everyone to play a part in an amazing evening.

Just try not to be too picky about telling them exactly what to bring.

Big salads and a scrumptious pasta dish with six people or less always go down as a winner. Add an excellent bottle of wine, and you’re good to go.

Save the high-class meats and complicated meals for larger dinner parties and formal events. Don’t assume that dinner parties need to mean slaving over the stove for days in advance.


Hosting a formal or casual dinner party is an opportunity for you to shine as a host. The biggest mistake first-time hosts make is allowing the stress to overtake them. Try not to get too wrapped up in every little detail.

Remember, these are friends and family members who won’t expect the earth. Embrace the casual, relaxed atmosphere that a dinner party should deliver.

What are your best tips for hosting a fantastic dinner party?

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